- A significant breakthrough in the development of disease-resistant tilapia strains.
Effective May 1, the Norwegian company Benchmark has appointed Kate Furhovden Stenerud as the new Commercial Director for salmon, while Thommy Holmvåg was promoted to the position of Commercial Lead for genetics in Norway. These changes are part of the company’s strategy to enhance its sales of genetics and health products for the aquaculture industry. The sales department is now better equipped to continue the positive growth of Benchmark’s product range.
Stenerud takes over the commercial responsibility from Geir Olav Melingen, who will become the new Head of Benchmark Genetics starting next June 1. Stenerud previously worked with regional customer responsibility in South Norway and has collaborated closely with the global sales team. In her new role, she will report to Melingen, who is pleased that Kate has accepted the position.
Melingen states: “Kate has proven to be a strong candidate for this role, and we are delighted to have her take on this new responsibility. Her contribution will continue the great work that has been done in genetics and health for salmon worldwide.”
Benchmark’s commercial teams for Atlantic salmon are located in Norway, the UK, Iceland, North America, and Chile, and the company provides fertilized salmon eggs and delousing services to more than 40 countries worldwide.
Holistically organized on sales and marketing
To support Stenerud in her new role, Thommy Holmvåg has been appointed as the Commercial Lead for genetics in Norway, a newly created position, and will report directly to her. Holmvåg previously held the responsibility of managing regional customers in Northern Norway.
“Thommy is a dynamic and collaborative team player who effectively communicates with both our customers and the team. These strengths will help us further develop our work both internally and externally,” commented Stenerud.
The commercial team and genetics marketing department were reorganized in June 2022 to focus more holistically on sales and marketing of the company’s Atlantic salmon-related products. This restructuring has positively contributed to building even stronger customer relationships and improving collaboration across different departments.
Tilapia strains: a significant step
In the other hand, the company’s team of scientists has identified a significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) affecting resistance to Streptococcus iniae in Tilapia, a significant step towards improving the health and sustainability of Tilapia farming.
Recent research demonstrates a significant quantitative trait locus (QTL) affecting resistance to Streptococcus iniae in Benchmark Genetics’ high performing strain of Nile tilapia. This discovery is the result of an awarded collaboration between the USDA’s Aquatic Animal Health Research Unit (AAHRU) and Benchmark’s geneticist Sergio Vela-Avitúa et al.
The QTL found by the team explained up to 26% of the genetic variation in resistance. Fish were then selectively bred for survival to S. iniae using marker-assisted selection (MAS) to demonstrate resistance in fish classified as “resistant” or “susceptible”.
The results were impressive, with a final cumulative percent mortality of only 1% for offspring from resistant parents, compared to 73% for offspring from susceptible parents. These results demonstrate that MAS for improved resistance to S. iniae is feasible and likely to be highly effective.
Benchmark Genetics has already implemented these results into their breeding and production of genetically improved Spring Tilapia breeders and fingerlings.
In that sense, Morten Rye, Director of Genetics at Benchmark Genetics commented: “We are thrilled to announce this breakthrough in the development of more disease-resistant tilapia strains. Our proprietary Spring Tilapia strain is the result of years of pioneering research and innovation, and we are committed to using our expertise to improve the sustainability and profitability of the global tilapia industry. We are confident that this new development will provide significant benefits to our customers and to the industry as a whole.”